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Heroes Community > Heroes 3.5 - WoG and Beyond > Thread: Battle Poker II - Improvements under Era 2
Thread: Battle Poker II - Improvements under Era 2
JimV
JimV


Responsible
Supreme Hero
posted December 29, 2012 11:12 PM
Edited by JimV at 05:54, 30 Dec 2012.

Battle Poker II - Improvements under Era 2

"Battle Poker" was my third or fourth map, made in 2007. I had some ideas for improving it, but got involved with other projects, until recently. Besides my old ideas, there were some improvements which I could make under Era which I could not easily have done (if at all) under WoG 3.58f. This post will give examples, to show some of the advantages of Era.

The general idea of the map is to simulate a game of 5-card Draw Poker, with five players, four of whom can be humans. I got the idea from "Battle Chess", in which chess pieces fight when a chess board square is taken. In Battle Poker, there is a deck of 52 playing cards in which the cards are creatures, and at the "showdown" (see rules link) the human players and the top computer player must battle in an arena to see whose "hand" wins the "pot".

If you don't know the rules of Poker, see this link which contains general poker rules plus another link to the specific mechanics of Draw Poker.

Each player starts with 20,000 gold, and each hand begins with a 1000 gold "ante". A player who runs out of gold is eliminated. To win, a player must accumulate 75,000 gold by betting and winning hands.  Each player will use one Hero throughout the game. All the Heroes start with the same skills.  Attack, Defense, and Secondary Skill levels will improve as the player's Hero wins hands. No experience is gained during the battles, but the pot winner gets 1000 experience points if the player is human, and 1200 EP if the player is an AI.

I usually play as one human and four computer players (Single Scenario).  I have also played in Multiplayer Hotseat mode, with two human players and three computer players. I have not tried other Multiplayer modes.

Why make a poker game out of Heroes instead of playing a commercial poker game? Mainly for the fun and challenge of figuring out how to do it. For example, I wrote Fortran programs to decide what to do when an AI player has AKQxx. (Keep just the Ace, or the AKQ, or ... ?) I used a special random number generator (capable of simulating hundreds of thousands of poker hands) to see how often each choice would win against other choices. This also gave insight as to how the AI should bet such hands.)

In the original 3.58f version I renamed the creatures which are used as cards (e.g., Archer --> "Two of Clubs") but did not change their portraits. For the Era version, I made a mod with playing-card portraits. (This could have been done under 3.58f with a .wog update, but would have been more cumbersome for people to install and un-install.)

There was a big temptation to cheat in the original version, by saving prior to being dealt new cards, and re-loading to try to get better hands. Under Era, I can check for "S" key-presses and disable them to prevent such cheating. (However, as a compromise, I allow saving the game on the first day of each new month, which is about every 4-5 poker hands, depending on how many bets (raises) there are in each hand.)

I think the biggest improvement was automatic End-of-Turns. It is necessary to keep the five players in phase. That is, a single player cannot be dealt five new cards, make his/her initial (pre-draw) round of bets, discard some cards and be dealt replacements, and make his/her final round of bets all in one turn. The hand must proceed with each player making a single decision, and then ending his/her turn so the next player can do a similar action. So in the original game, a lot of time was spent just clicking the End Turn button.

In the Era version, in most cases after a human player has made a choice (bet, check, fold, discard, etc.), the player's turn is ended automatically. There are still some times when the Human player has nothing left to do and must wait for the other players by clicking End Turn, but the game flows much more smoothly in the Era version.

The images below show a typical sequence of being dealt a new hand (Quest Gate = Dealer), pre-draw betting, discarding and drawing new cards, final betting, and the showdown.









In this case the human player had a pair of fives, and the AI had a pair of sevens. New creatures (e.g., "Paired Fives") are substituted at the showdown to account for the strength of pairs in poker.  Also "Bonus Card" creatures are added:  three for a single pair, six for two pairs, nine for three of a kind, etc..  The stronger poker hand will always have the more powerful army.  In this case the pair of sevens is stronger than a pair of fives, but the human will probably win by better battle tactics.

The "Battle Poker 2" Era mod (developed under Era 2.4) can be downloaded at box.com.  It is in the form of a self-extracting archive (.exe) which is intended to be extracted into a Heroes 3 - Era 2 folder.

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Salamandre
Salamandre


Admirable
Omnipresent Hero
Wog refugee
posted December 30, 2012 01:21 AM

I remember I tried it once years ago but gave up very fast-I never played poker in my life so I was confused-. Thanks for the Era version, looks nicely, now have to learn the rules.
____________
All my Era II mods

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JimV
JimV


Responsible
Supreme Hero
posted December 30, 2012 05:48 AM
Edited by JimV at 21:10, 30 Dec 2012.

I have discovered an interesting problem, which did not occur in the original WoG version.

It seems that when a human player has an unimproved Town, the player gets 500 gold per day (which is normal, or so I thought), but when an AI player has the same town, the AI player gets 750 gold per day.

BP2 subtracts 500 gold per day from all players, intended to prevent players from gaining gold except by winning bets. As things stand in the Era 2 version, the AI players gain 250 gold per day, so around day 221, an AI player with 20,000 gold from poker will trip the Special Victory condition and defeat the human players.

Or it could be that I have introduced a bug somehow.  The facts are these:

1. I never saw this condition (an unexpected win by the AI) in many play-tests of the WoG version.

2. By adding IF:L displays to a timer I have found that when I play as Blue, Blue gets 500 G/day and the rest get 750 G/day (somehow); and when I play as Purple, Purple gets 500 G/day and the rest get 750 G/day.

3. I disabled all Mods except BP2, Secondary Skills Scrolling, and Fast Battle Animation before making tests.

So my hypothesis is that the Heroes executable has been changed to give the AI an advantage, but it could be my mistake.**

Anyway, the easiest solution is to open BattlePoker2.h3m in the Map Editor and change the Special Victory condition so that it no longer applies to computer players.  I have done this (just now) to the uploaded version.

** Edit - I have tested incomes under WoG 3.58f, and see the same effect. At Impossible difficulty, an AI player gets 750 G/day for a Town without a Town or City Hall, and a human gets 500.  At Expert difficulty, the AI's get 625. At Hard and below, the AI's get 500.

The Heroes 3 manual (H3Manual.pdf) says:

"The village hall, being the minimum defining building of a town, is automatically a part of all towns. It provides an income of 500 Gold per day."

No exceptions are cited, so I wonder if this was a change by the WoG Team to make AI's more challenging. ***

*** Edit 2 - I have tested in SoD (in Multiplayer, changing teams on Day two) and the same thing takes place there. AI players get 750 G/D from a Village Hall at Impossible level.  

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master_learn
master_learn


Legendary Hero
walking to the library
posted December 30, 2012 09:29 AM

Quote:
New creatures (e.g., "Paired Fives") are substituted at the showdown to account for the strength of pairs in poker.  Also "Bonus Card" creatures are added:  three for a single pair, six for two pairs, nine for three of a kind, etc..  The stronger poker hand will always have the more powerful army.  In this case the pair of sevens is stronger than a pair of fives, but the human will probably win by better battle tactics.



I guess much of the better battle tactics would be eliminated if the stronger poker hand have superior speed.

"Fly Bonus Cards here"
____________
"They made a Heroes V? "-OhforfSake

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fred79
fred79


Promising
Undefeatable Hero
posted December 30, 2012 10:07 AM

cool mod! i'll give it a try sometime.

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master_learn
master_learn


Legendary Hero
walking to the library
posted December 30, 2012 01:42 PM

For all AC/DC fans in HC some part of the lyrics:

Said she'd never had a Royal Flush
But I should have known
That all the cards were comin'
From the bottom of the pack
And if I'd known what she was dealin' out
I'd have dealt it back

She's got the Jack...

Part of the description in wiki:

"The usual rank of a Jack, within its suit, plays as if it were an 11 (that is, between the 10 and the Queen). As the lowest face (or "court") card, the Jack often represents a minimum standard — for example, many poker games require a minimum hand of a pair of Jacks ("Jacks or better") in order to continue play.

The Jack, traditionally the lowest face card, has often been promoted to a higher or the highest position in the traditional ranking of cards, where the Ace or King generally occupied the first rank. This is seen in the earliest known European card games, such as Karnöffel, as well as in more recent ones such as Euchre."

JimV,do you think of including some other card games like Bridge or Belote in your mod?
____________
"They made a Heroes V? "-OhforfSake

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JimV
JimV


Responsible
Supreme Hero
posted December 30, 2012 03:11 PM

I had thought of doing a "World Series of Poker" campaign, with the addition of 7-card Stud and Holdem, but lack the necessary enthusiasm.

I played a lot of duplicate Bridge at one time. As you know, there are four players in two teams and each play one card at a time, with the strongest card of the four winning. I am not sure how that would be translated into a Heroes battle. (What was your plan?)

I am not familiar with Belote. I thought I had played almost every type of card game - maybe I know it under a different name.  I will google it.

Thanks to all for your comments.

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master_learn
master_learn


Legendary Hero
walking to the library
posted December 30, 2012 04:23 PM
Edited by master_learn at 16:26, 30 Dec 2012.

My plan is simple-you include games,I and many others play the mod you generously provided and study how they are played in H3 atmosphere.
Here is the link for Belote.
____________
"They made a Heroes V? "-OhforfSake

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JimV
JimV


Responsible
Supreme Hero
posted December 30, 2012 04:52 PM

Belote seems very interesting. It has similarities to two games I have played: double-Eucher, and Pinochle - but is much more complicated than either. It has so many rules that it would take me a lifetime to master it, and I don't have a lifetime left.

It has the same basic problem that I see for Bridge, as far as making a Heroes game. The play consists of individual "tricks" in which one player choses a card from his hand, and then three other players chose one of their cards in turn (following certain rules), and the strongest card wins the trick. The strategy consists of choosing single cards from a hand of cards, whereas in Heroes 3 the battle strategy involves using a whole army at once.

In Poker, at the "showdown" two or more players display five-card hands and the strongest hand wins. This has some similarity to a Heroes battle in which armies of five troops fight each other. In Poker the strongest hand (army) always wins, but in Heroes that is not always true, so Heroes adds a tiny bit of nuance to the game. I could have made it so the strongest hand always wins in BP, but then there would be no point in fighting the battle.

Speaking of creature speed (which you mentioned in a previous comment), I recall that I increased Attack, Defense and Health as cards get higher in value, but only increased Speed at intervals greater than one card. I don't recall why that was, but it might be that there is a limit on Speed which I encountered during initial trials.  Or maybe I just based it on the fact that the Speed range for creatures in Heroes is less than the range of the other properties.

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majaczek
majaczek


Supreme Hero
Work at Magic Dimmension
posted December 30, 2012 11:37 PM

for games like bridge I propose one hero for one card, once all cards will be played (one match), heroes should be ressurected into start areas. of course town will have no tavern. there also should be gates allowing only one hero per each player on fight area.

now there is a question, could wog/era handle more than 8 wandering heroes (ie. spawned via ERM) or is it a hardcoded limit?

Would you JimV consider doing a Bridge map?

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JimV
JimV


Responsible
Supreme Hero
posted December 31, 2012 12:56 AM
Edited by JimV at 00:57, 31 Dec 2012.

I don't know of a way to have more than eight Heroes of one color active, but since there are eight colors that would not be much of an obstacle (there are other possibilities also, e.g., Adventure Map objects which look like Heroes while the Heroes are on standby, or just a "bullpen" object which would release Heroes as necessary).

The issues which do seem daunting to me are:

1) With four human players, Hot Seat mode would be impractical, and I do not have access to a Lan (or three other testers) to test other Multiplayer modes. With AI players, I would have to program AI strategies.  I haven't tried a Bridge game program recently, but the last time I did, I was disappointed by the AI play in them (not very challenging) - and they were done by commercial software companies with teams of professional programmers. I have no confidence that I could do even as well.

2) Bridge is an excellent strategy game already. I just don't see how a Heroes version would add anything.

There probably is a way to do it which would be both practical and interesting, but someone will have to explain it to me.

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